Only on NBC5: Good Samaritan gives Sterlingville Cemetery some TLC

Jacksonville, Ore. —  There’s a spot just outside of Jacksonville, that holds a special place in one Rogue Valley man’s heart. Tonight, he’s working tirelessly to leave it better than he found it, for the sake of his father and those around him too.

“He was my soul mate,” Marsha Allen says, “he was everything.”

Marsha and Dennis Allen met at a drive-in diner in 1963. 3 years after that first date, they got married, vowing to stay together until death do them part.

Cancer, brought that about sooner, than Marsha would have liked.

“I’m grateful I was with him till the end,” Marsha says, “and I’m grateful that I had him for 53 years…but it flew by, it was so fast.”

Now the days seem a bit longer, and it’s been almost a year since Dennis was buried at the Sterlingville Cemetery. Families have been making it their final resting place since the 1800’s. Over the years, time, and changing seasons have left their mark.

The cemetery doesn’t have a full time caretaker, and no part time staff either. Jasen Allen, took notice.

“Covered in leaves, and pine needles, and tree limbs and little young growth,” Jasen says, “it needed to be cleaned.”

So he did it. First, around his father’s headstone, then the one beside it. One pile turned into 2 and then 3, and then dozens, and before Jasen knew it, he wasn’t just sprucing up his dad’s grave site, he was landscaping the whole thing.

“It’s like I couldn’t stop without finishing it,” Jasen says.

One week later, headstones that were once buried, ar-e back on display, from the 1800’s to the 2000’s, and everything in between.

“Once I started it was just a good feeling, so I kept going,” Jasen says, “it’s your final resting place you know, so it should look good.”

And it didn’t stop at clean-up, Jasen then went through and placed flowers at every single site. He’s been at it for over a week now, but he has no plans to stop until the work is done. For what began as a labor of love for his father, is now touching perfect strangers too.

Jasen has been in touch with the owners of the cemetery who provided him a place to dispose of the brush, and he has been careful to maintain the historic touches of moss and other aging throughout his project. He hopes to finish things up before he has to go back to work next week.

 

Kristin Hosfelt anchors NBC5 News at 6 with NBC5 News Director Craig Smullin. Kristin is originally from the Bay Area. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University. She comes to KOBI-TV/NBC5 from Bangor, Maine where she was the evening news anchor. Kristin has won multiple journalism awards including Best Feature Reporting in the State of Maine. When Kristin is not sharing the news she’s hunting down the best burrito, hiking a local trail or buried in a Jodi Picoult novel. She’s also a Green Bay Packers shareholder! If you see her out and about she’d be happy to tell you how a California girl became a Cheesehead.

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